THE EDITOR: Sir,
Recently, Ambassador Aloun Ndombet-Assamba had a Facebook post entitled “Some of PNP’s Legacy Projects and Achievements”. Honestly, it was an impressive and informative list of pre and post Independence achievements. More recently, Prime Minister Andrew Holness remarked about his own legacy. He is quoted as saying, “I have to start to think about legacy. What will Jamaica be? Will it be the same as I came and saw it? I can’t let it be the way I came and saw it.”
Sadly, we continue to make the grave error of clinging to the belief that legacy is primarily about institutions and infrastructures. Ndombet-Assamba’s lengthy list details the institutions and infrastructures as real legacy. To date, Prime Minister Holness also seems to understand legacy as infrastructural projects such as the South Coast Highway Improvement Project, economic reform, and new jobs such as those emanating from Business Process Outsourcing. If infrastructure and institutions are at the core of the legacy of the two main post-Independence political parties, then why is there ongoing decline in labour productivity, increase in violent crimes, unstoppable brain drain, anaemic economic growth, and social malaise?
We have failed to realize that authentic legacy is not about infrastructure and institutions, but about human development. What feeds human development is not infrastructure and institutions, but values. What we have witnessed in Jamaica’s history is not only the conceptualization and birth of myriads of institutions, but also a concomitant decline in the standard of living and morals as a result of corruption, nepotism, and waste. We fail to understand that it is people who manage institutions and infrastructures. If those persons lack essential values and work ethics, then the institutions become irrelevant or weak, and our infrastructures deteriorate. Therefore, the optimum functioning of institutions and infrastructures relies on healthy values and attitudes.
The closest this country has come to the birth and sustenance of healthy values and attitudes is former Prime Minister PJ Patterson’s 1990s Values and Attitudes Initiative. Regrettably, there was never the fortitude, foresight, and fortis to sustain it. Consequently, we continue to reap the fruits of social decay, corruption, and waste. If Prime Minister Holness wishes to leave behind an authentic legacy, then he must seriously consider countries such as Cuba which, albeit poor in infrastructure and lacking in modernization, boasts great values and attitudes and work ethics that translate into flourishing human development and limited social decay. Authentic legacy is not primarily about the physical, but the mindset and attitudes of a people. It is the dog of values and attitudes that needs to wag the tail of development and modernization.
2 thoughts on “Building an authentic legacy”
For most people Legacy is about things,every time I hear the question about a persons Legacy , I am complexly turned off, the only legacy that has any lasting value are the people you have shaped out of your own way of being and living , everything else is rubbish , congrats on your courage to speak a Son of Jamaica🙏🏽
I never thought of Cuba that way. Thanks for sharing your observations.